Ivory Coast's incumbent leader Laurent Gbagbo has prolonged a curfew imposed on two districts in the country's main city of Abidjan as violence continues to escalate in the wake of a disputed Nov. 28 presidential election.
AFP - Ivory Coast strongman Laurent Gbagbo on Saturday extended by a week a night curfew slapped on two Abidjan districts after deadly unrest, according to a decree read on state television.
The 7:00 pm to 6:00 am curfew in Abobo and Anyama "is extended to the morning of Saturday, January 22," a presenter on state television said of the measure initially decreed from Wednesday to Saturday.
The first curfew followed two days of unrest in which at least 11 people died, including eight members of Gbagbo's Defence and Security Forces (FDS), after hundreds of the troops moved into the area searching for weapons.
Abobo is a bastion of support for the man the world says beat incumbent Gbagbo in a November 28 presidential run-off, Alassane Ouattara, who remains holed up in an Abidjan hotel resort, besieged by Gbabgo troops.
More than 200 people have died since the vote. Most of the world, the United Nations and the Independent Electoral Commission says that Quattara is the winner and he has been sworn in as president.
Gbagbo says that the constitutional council has declared him the winner, and he has also been sworn in as president.
Asked why the curfew had been extended, Gbagbo's government spokesman Ahoua Don Mello told AFP: "Because there are a certain number of places that have been identified as concealing weapons of war.
"These places have not yet all been completely looked at so it is important for the curfew to continue so that we can find these weapons. These are weapons of war, Kalashnikovs etc have been found in these areas.
"The work continues until we have collected all of these weapons," he said, declining to say how many had so far been seized.
A security source said that police in the neighbourhood had come under attack from rocket-propelled grenades when they first moved into the area.
Residents said that the area has been calm at night since the curfew was first decreed, and the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the country has been able to carry out some nighttime patrols there.
Gbagbo's camp has accused Ouattara of inciting acts of violence in the area, something Ouattara's side has denied.
The African Union's mediator in the crisis, Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga, is expected back in Abidjan on Sunday.
Odinga's first trip to Abidjan since being appointed as mediator by the continental body ended on January 5 with little tangible progress after Gbagbo failed to make good on promises that mediators said he made.
The UN wants to send up to 2,000 extra peacekeepers to Ivory Coast, but a Security Council vote on the extra troops has been delayed until Tuesday.
Regional bloc ECOWAS has said it is prepared to use force as a last resort of Gbagbo refuses to step down.
Date created : 2011-01-15